Britain’s place on the world stage is something which has been brought in to sharp focus in recent times.
Last year’s Brexit vote meant there has been much soul searching about our position in the global trade scene, and this week has seen the Prime Minister in Japan trying to reassure them that their investments in this country will be secure after we exit the EU.
For many more farmers, however, their sights are set on countries beyond the European Union and the nature of world supply and demand is illustrated in this week’s Farmers Guardian business section.
From rising demand for dairy from China, to the impact of Russian grain stocks on the price UK farmers are receiving for their wheat, to red meat exports on the up, it is global factors which are driving many of the markets.
Indeed, dairy’s recovery is being driven again by global market forces, much the same as its sky high peaks of a few years ago were.
The challenge for UK farmers and the wider industry is to be prepared for the new world order. Not only could China overtake the USA in terms of demand for dairy by 2022, but it could be firmly placed as the world’s pre-eminent political and cultural force by then as well.
What that means in the short term is hard to tell, but, longer term, if consumer demand increases still further from the east and eating habits continue to shift, the core products farmers churn out here in the UK may also have to be adapted.
With volatility potentially on the rise and the UK facing the end of direct payments after the next parliament, now is the time for farmers to be planning how their businesses will be structured in order to ride out the inevitable peaks and troughs of the global market.
’All the world’s a stage’, Shakespeare once wrote, and farmers may merely be players in it going forward. And they will have to be efficient ones with their eyes wide open.
And finally, with a great sheep special in this week’s FG and scores of sales from around the marts, it is a sure sign autumn is well on its way.